Can you smell your health?

can you smell healthAll five senses guide us through life. Whether seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling or feeling, they work together to paint a picture of the world.

When something smells bad, we likely won’t approach or eat it. The foul smell signals to us it’s probably not good for our health. This is how our senses can boost health and keep us safe, by avoiding things that may cause us harm.


At the same time, our senses can also reveal aspects of our health. If our hearing starts to fade, this is a sign of poor health. If our taste begins to weaken, it could be another potential sign of poor health. The latest findings suggest that our ability to smell can predict mortality.

Sense of smell and future health

sense of smell and healthSense of smell makes for a strong health indicator because it is linked to many other processes within the body. Published in PLOS One, researchers wanted to uncover the role of smell in determining future health.

About 3,000 adults were tracked over the course of 2006. They were between the ages of 57 and 85. Participants were asked to identify smells such as roses, oranges, leather, fish and peppermint. Five years later, researchers observed deaths among the group for those with a good sense of smell and a poor one. What they found was that those who had a poor sense of smell were more likely to have died within the five-year period.

If you’re worried your ability to smell will land you in a casket, don’t be. The percentage of people with a poor sense of smell was small and only accounted for an eighth of the deaths. What this study does reveal though is the connection between our senses as potential indicators for health.

Loss of smell typically occurs when receptors are damaged. This can result from a head injury, cancer or even surgery. Besides mortality, loss of smell can be a sign of the early onset of neurodegenerative diseases.

Link between obesity and smell

obesity and smellNow that we know smell can indicate health, recent research reveals your ability to imagine smell may determine if you’re more likely to be obese.

Researchers from John B. Pierce Laboratory and Yale School of Medicine gave 25 volunteers questionnaires to rate their imaginary abilities. Volunteers had to rate their ability to imagine the smell and look of food options.

Participants who could vividly imagine the smell of food items had higher body mass indexes. Researchers believe the ability to imagine scents can increase cravings causing people to overeat, leading to obesity. The findings were published in

These studies suggest our senses can be indicators of our health. You should be mindful to any changes which occur in your senses; they could be signaling a health concern.

Related Reading:

Warning: Loss of smell considered a sign of mortality

New research suggests that the inability of older adults to pinpoint smells could mean that mortality is just around the corner. After all, your olfactory system is a critical part of your body’s processes. Continue reading…

These common foods are killing your sense of smell?

In a study by Florida State University (FSU), funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the Journal of Neuroscience in July, researchers demonstrated that a high-fat diet is associated with significant structural and functional changes in your olfactory system. This is the system in your body that gives you your sense of smell. Continue reading…


What Your Tongue Reveals About Your Health

Walk up to a mirror, open up your mouth and say, “ahhh.” This exercise has nothing to do with teeth whitening and actor George Clooney (who paid for that gorgeous grin).
It’s all about your tongue, not necessarily a beauty feature, perhaps, but getting a close look at your own tongue will say more about you than you think. Continue reading…